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Taking Resilience to the Streets

 This fall, neighbors across the U.S. will be meeting in each other’s homes to support each other in reducing their reliance on fossil fuels, building social cohesion, and strengthening their community’s resilience.

Sixteen Transition groups in 12 states are currently laying the groundwork in their communities to pilot Transition Streets, a project proven to reduce the carbon footprint of entire neighborhoods and save hundreds of dollars on energy bills.
Transition Streets brings together small groups of neighbors and supports them in taking effective, practical, money-saving and carbon reduction actions. A workbook helps each person to build their own action plan that improves household energy efficiency, minimizes water use, reduces waste and consumption, explores local transportation options and promotes local food.
The Transition Streets project, which was originally developed in 2008 by Transition Town Totnesin the U.K., was awarded the 2011 Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy. Since then, the project has spread across the world, to countries including Australia, Canada, and France. This year Transition US, the U.S. arm of the international Transition movement, will be supporting Transition groups in piloting the project in the following cities/counties in the U.S.: Albany, CA; Ashland, MA; Catskill, NY; Charlottesville, VA; Clemson, SC; Berkeley, CA; Goshen, IN; Humboldt County, CA; Monmouth County, NJ; Milwaukee, WI; Northfield, MN; Northhampton, MA; Sarasota, FL; Schenectady, NY; Seattle, WA; and State College, PA.
The project has had impressive results in the U.K. On average, households participating in Transition Streets cut their bills by $900/year and reduce their carbon emissions by 1.3 tons. Just as important were the side benefits: neighbors formed a social bond and glimpsed what a low-carbon future would look like in their neighborhood. Additional outcomes from one year of implementing Transition Streets in Totnes included:
  • 468 households formed 56 groups
  • Over 392 hours of group meetings
  • 141 domestic solar PV systems installed
  • A 12 kWp PV system installed on Civic Hall
  • 85% of participants say changes will be sustained beyond the project
  • 98% of groups said they’d keep meeting beyond their last ‘official’ meeting
Transition Streets also resulted in an increase of over £1 million spent in Totnes’ local economy. This included securing funding for local solar panel installations, as well as work for local scaffolding companies and electricians.
Here’s what people are saying about Transition Streets:
I love that Transition Streets encourages neighbors to get together and work through simple hands-on steps together. I see it as having great potential for increasing sustainability knowledge in town and growing our fledgling Transition movement. -- Matt Marshquist, Transition Ashland, MA

There is a LOT of bubbling excitement about the potential of Transition Streets in Milwaukee. Namely that there is a natural fit with our City’s energy efficiency program as well. Transition Milwaukee has the potential to start discussing and practicing energy curtailment with the grassroots sector, and at the end also link up homeowners with existing programs in the area. -- Jessica Cohodes, Transition Milwaukee, WI
Transition US is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to support the national rollout of Transition Streets in the U.S.
In addition to supporting Transition groups pilot the project, Transition Streets materials will be made available, at no cost, to individuals and groups across the country who would like to participate. 

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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